After a good rain, the Rolling Plains Master Naturalist group that I belong to often goes out on an amphibian watch to listen to and record the different kinds of frogs that are singing after a rain. I don’t live close to my group any more, so I no longer participate on the amphibian watch with them. But I’m still interested…I’m still a master naturalist, even if I’m not hanging out with my peeps.
Saturday afternoon I drove along a country road with the car windows down, radio off… just enjoying the cool damp air after one of the downpours of rain that we’ve been simultaneously enjoying and fearing this last week. I was just driving along, loving the day, when what to my wondering ears should I hear? Frogs! And lots of them.
I was driving past a “froggy bottom” when I heard them. The area was a little creek/draw/bottom land that acts as a wetland, no doubt harboring many different kinds of frogs no matter what the weather. I pulled over to the side of the road and merely listened to them for a little while. It was a beautiful sound.
They were out, singing after the rain, in their own distinct voices. I couldn’t identify what kind of frogs were calling except for bullfrogs. I simply enjoyed listening to them. Later, I looked up the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department website and queried “frog calls.” There was a large list of links to various frog and toad calls. I listened and tried to identify what I’d heard. I’m not sure I identified the frog calls correctly, but it was interesting to listen to the various sounds.
The Rolling Plains Master Naturalist group is involved in the Texas Amphibian Watch. After a good rain, the group goes out after dark to a specified wetland area and listens to the evening sounds. This activity is an extension of the class on amphibians that participants attend as part of their training to be a master naturalist and citizen scientist. After listening, identifying, and counting the different frog and toad calls, the group turns in the results of the observation to the Texas Amphibian Watch.
Frogs and toads are more important than one might think.
They do more than eat flies and mosquitoes. Amphibians are a clue to the impact man and pollution has on the environment. Observing what’s happening to the frogs is a sign of what’s happening to our water in lakes, ponds, and rivers.
All amphibians use wetlands in at least a part of their life cycle. They have permeable skin which causes them to be readily affected by any changes in their environment. Because of these two traits, ecologists believe that amphibians and any changes in their population in an area are the first signal of a changing ecosystem.
In 1989, scientists became alarmed at significant declines in the populations of some amphibians. This decline seemed to be happening all over the world. In 1995, a group of Minnesota school children noticed frog populations that had malformed limbs. There had been a surge in the number of frogs with deformities. The frogs were the first indicators of a broad change in the ecosystem.
The Texas Amphibian Watch relies on citizen scientists and master naturalists to report observations about amphibian populations. The amphibian watch helps us to understand the clues that frogs, toads, and salamanders leave us about the ecosystem.
To become involved with the Texas Amphibian Watch, you can join your local master naturalist group or go to the website at : http://tpwd.texas.gov.
Watch this video by Joe Furman and listen to the frogs singing. Oh, and watch out for those alligators!